Whether you have concrete in your home or business, polished concrete can be an environmentally friendly and low maintenance flooring and countertop solution. Polished concrete offers some distinct advantages over other common materials. This article includes some easy directions on how to polish concrete yourself.
Polished concrete flooring
Durable and allergen free, clean concrete offers some distinct advantages over carpeting. Unlike carpet which can trap dust mites, pet dander and other interior undesirables, polished concrete provides a smooth, low VOC (volatile organic compounds), easy to clean surface. It will not dent or chip like soft materials such as hardwood floors and linoleum.
By polishing concrete, a dense, abrasion-resistant surface is created. Polished concrete is also reflective and will appear to brighten the space. Additionally, polished concrete is less slippery that a typical tile floor, and a floor polished to 3000 grit is even less slippery that a sealed concrete floor.
Polished concrete countertops
What started as a cool trend for lofts has found its way to the countertops of more urban homes. Polished concrete countertops are as beautiful as they are functional. Cast either on location or at a contractor or artist's shop, most countertops are comprised of lightweight aggregates. A rough estimate for a basic concrete countertop is about $55 per square foot as compared to the average of $65 per square foot for granite. If you don't want to pay a professional to pour the countertop, there are do-it-yourself options. They sell premeasured mixes containing pigments, fibers, water reducer, accelerants, and other key ingredients. You don't have to be a concrete expert. With patience, first-time users and do-it-yourselfers can create a lustrous concrete countertop.
How to polish concrete countertops and floors
Polishing concrete is similar to sanding wood. Abrasive disks or pads (similar in function to sandpaper) gradually grind down the concrete surface until the desired of shine and smoothness have been reached. Concrete can be polished using either a wet or dry method. Professionals often use a combination of both methods. The wet method injects water to cool the diamond abrasives and reduce dust. One advantage to the wet method is that the pads last longer, though it is messier. For dry concrete polishing, some manufacturers sell resin-bonded disks and pads that withstand the friction of dry polishing.
To polish countertops or small floors, use a handheld wet polisher rather than a grinder. For ease of control, locate a tool that operates at between 500 and 3000 RPM. Faster tools become difficult to handle. To polish large floors, a larger tool will save your back. You may want to rent one if you have only one project. If you're polishing a countertop, wear an apron to avoid splattering your clothes.
Start with 50-grit pad, moving on to 100, 200, 400, and 800. Next polish with a 1500-grit pad and notice the sheen. Continue polishing until you are satisfied with the shine. Dry concrete pads at 5" cost about $165 for a set of three.
An eco-friendly and durable floor may be waiting to be polished under your carpet. Likewise, that outdated Formica countertop may be begging for a unique polished concrete countertop. You may be amazed at all the beautiful ways to make concrete a beautiful part of your home or business décor.